fever by George HodanWhile Ebola has taken center stage in the headlines, there are other threats out there and parents should be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Enterovirus-D68 has made its way to Texas. It strikes children, and in some cases, it is deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been close to 700 cases in 46 states, and 14 of these are in Texas counties.

So what is enterovirus? It was first identified in 1962. It is a non-polio virus, but it can include non-characteristic paralysis symptoms. As a rule, the enterovirus season runs from July through October – so we are likely at the end of the season’s ride. However, since infants, children, and teenagers are at higher risk than adults for getting infected, parents should know that children with asthma or a history of wheezing and respiratory illnesses are at greater risk for more severe respiratory problems.

At its onset, enterovirus acts a lot like the flu. Children begin exhibiting fever, runny nose, cough, and muscle aches, sometimes accompanied by wheezing and difficulty breathing. If your child presents with these symptoms, get them to the doctor.

The Flu
Flu viruses are constantly changing, but they come around in their various forms every year. The timing of flu can be unpredictable, but the season is generally between December and February. Sometimes it begins as early as October can last until as late as May.

Those most prone to getting the flu include children, people with chronic health issues and seniors. But it can hit anyone. The range of flu symptoms is broad: Fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, body aches, chills, nausea and diarrhea.

In most cases, flu resolves in a week or two. As for how contagious it is, most healthy adults can still infect others a day before their symptoms develop and about a week after they appear. Young children and those with weaker immune systems can be contagious a little longer.

Unlike enterovirus, flu is rampant. In the U.S., anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu. And more than 200,000 people wind up in the hospital.

What should parents do?
Stopping the spread of any virus means paying extra attention to keeping it from being passed from one person to another. That means lots of hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. The CDC also recommends avoiding kissing, hugging and sharing eating utensils. Coughs and sneezes should be covered with tissues that are thrown away. It’s also a good idea to disinfect toys, cabinet knobs and doorknobs. And keep your child out of school until a doctor determines the child is no longer contagious.

Currently, there is no vaccine for enterovirus. But that’s not the case with the flu. It is not too late to get a flu shot. If you and your family haven’t gotten it yet, the operative word is NOW, as it takes approximately two weeks to build immunity.

Here at Impact Urgent Care, we offer flu shots seven days a week, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at both our locations. Do yourself, your children and your community a favor – get a flu shot and stop the flu from spreading.

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